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RICHMOND, VA (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH) — Bitter recrimination was the order of the day when the Richmond Braves ball club lit out for Gwinnett, Ga., four years ago. The AAA team had demanded a replacement for its aging ballpark, The Diamond, and local officials hadn’t come through. The city and surrounding counties were denounced as the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

Now it’s beginning to look like they dodged a bullet.

County leaders in Gwinnett lured the Braves from Richmond by borrowing millions to build the team a spanking-new stadium. Residents were ecstatic over what the Gwinnett Daily Post termed the fulfillment of "Gwinnett’s dream." A study plumped Gwinnett as "an ideal location" and "one of the strongest markets in the country" for a minor-league club. The paper said surveys showed "overwhelming support" for the proposal.

But the bloom, as they say, is off the rose.

Click here to read more at TimeDispatch.com


Comment on this Story

  • SurfCityTom

    the Braves Class A & AA teams were located right down I-64 from Richmond. Made it easy on the players to move up or down in the organization; and probably less expensive as players cover their own relocation costs.

    So they move the AAA team to within 30 minutes or so of the Big League franchise.

    The primary beneficiary there, the club as it reduces the time required to call a player up.

  • Guest2020

    Excellent post. Unfortunately, there are people out there who will still buy into it.

  • ChefnSurf

    Dear Mr. Answer Man,

    The other night, on Halloween, two of my friends were arguing over who’s scarier; Carnival Sideshow Barkers or Professional Baseball People. At first I thought that was a really silly argument but, now that I think about it, I’m not so sure. Who’s right?

    ILM Taxpayer


    Dear ILM Taxpayer,

    That sure sounded like a crazy question at first but, because you live in Wilmington, I can certainly understand why you would ask it.

    Carnival Barkers always promise you something that’ll probably never live up to your expectations once you’ve paid them for the price of admission to whatever sideshow they’re selling admission to. The dancing girl is always prettier than the Queen of Sheba; the Wild Man from Borneo is always the wildest man ever, etc. I’m sure you get the idea. The Carnival Barker always makes sure to tell you that the cost of admission is so low you’d almost have to be crazy not to purchase a ticket. The Carnival Barker will move from town to town selling the same story wherever he can.

    The Baseball Person will do essentially the same thing. A new stadium, for example, will be the greatest thing that’ll ever come to your town. Additional revenues will flood into your town like a tsunami. It’ll have all kinds of promised uses and your city will be so proud of it, all of the citizens will get together for a gigantic hug fest every week. The Baseball Person will also makes sure to tell you that the cost is so low (as little as one fast food meal a week) that you’d almost have to be crazy not purchase a “ticket”.

    Both of them will obviously promise you anything in order to extract some money from your wallet. The Carnival Barker will probably be in your town for about a week and then he’ll move on. Unless you’re an idiot, he’s not going to be able to fool you twice once you’ve been inside the tent. The Baseball Person pretty much assumes he’s only going to get one chance to be able to fool you as well. The difference is, even if you only get fooled once by the Baseball Person, you’ll still have to pay the price of admission each and every night for the next twenty years instead of just once, regardless of whether or not you even “go into the tent” or regardless of whether the “carnival” is even still in town!

    That’s what makes the Baseball Person so much scarier. Neither one will actually tell you the truth but in one instance you’ll be out some pocket change, in the other it’ll be something that’ll affect you for decades. For your sake, ILM Taxpayer, I can only hope that you’ll give that some serious consideration before you vote on this stadium referendum!

    Mr. Answer Man

  • Vog46

    We’ve been sitting here arguing about this for months and this one article has brought this discussion into very sharp focus:
    “The AAA team had demanded a replacement for its aging ballpark, The Diamond, and local officials hadn’t come through. The city and surrounding counties were denounced as the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.”
    First many here have said Minor league teams hold their cities hostage – the situation in Richmond proves it to be true.
    Second – the gang that couldn’t shoot straight sounds just like the “Kueblerisms” we’ve been hearing. “Not the time for frugality”, “look to the future not to the past” type of blather he’s noted for.

    “A study plumped Gwinnett as “an ideal location” and “one of the strongest markets in the country” for a minor-league club. The paper said surveys showed “overwhelming support” for the proposal.”
    Boy this completely destroyed the NSS report. Yes we got involved in a lot of detail within that report but one thing I didn’t hammer home enough was how much all these studies look alike. If you look at the NSS study and put a CS&L (Convention Sports and Leisure) study next to it they are identical in format. Chapter numbers and headings are the same. The report that lead to the Las Vegas stadium build is exactly the same as ours, the numbers are just switched. It is a stunning example of copy & paste, low brow, thoughtless verbage.

    “But then, the grand design was not merely to provide entertainment for the masses. Luring the Braves to Gwinnett was supposed to bring a fresh stream of revenue to county coffers and light a private-sector spark that would ignite a brushfire of ancillary development. Neither has happened.”
    A lot of people here claimed we can’r compare Triple AAA to single A ball clubs and they’re right, however economic impact for triple AAA should be much higher as the stadiums are bigger and the stars are bigger. This one facet of the Gwinnett article just obliterated the pro side argument of economic impact.

    This article as fascinating in its analysis of Gwinnett and “laid bare” the distortions the pro side has used for all to see. This article confirmed with a recent example all the arguments we’ve made AGAINST the stadium.
    But people have to vote against it to reject it. So far I’m pretty happy with the anecdotal evidence I’ve seen and heard regarding the vote so far.

    There are many other uses for that property down town OTHER than government owned buildings and our down town is not as “run down” as other cities.
    It’s time to say “no” to large sports empires. Its time for THEM to come to the table with more equitable proposals – to share the cost. Buying and moving a team is a part of their business (not ours) they’ve done it before and will do it again.

    Vote NO for peace of mind – vote NO to keep a bigger piece of your hard earned money


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